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NZ markets & image safe, Minister says

GE and non-GE crops could be grown in New Zealand without damaging each others potential markets, Environment Minister the Hon Marian Hobbs has said.

The Government has argued that case-by-case regulatory assessment would minimise risks and maximise benefits, and international experience suggested "carefully controlled GE plantings would not undermine New Zealand's image as a "clean, green" producer and tourism destination.

The Government has told its own MPs that "Canada and the US, despite having extensive genetically modified (GM) plantings, continue to secure access for the non-GM products to GM sensitive markets, such as the EU (European Union) countries and Japan".

It also said: "Countries with much laxer rules and widespread GM plantings have not experienced reduced demand for associated non-GM crops".

Marian Hobbs added that the approval

regime for GE material to be released in New Zealand was far more rigorous than the Canadian model, and that New Zealand's Green Party had exaggerated the effect of GE on Canada.

"The Canadians have not suffered any loss in their overall export markets because of what they grow in genetically modified products," Ms Hobbs said.

"The only price loss was for a period of time when the Canadians were denied a market in terms of the EU. When they changed their market across to Japan and Saudi Arabia... and two other countries their market price recovered."

Laws that end the moratorium have already been passed. The only GE-related legislation before parliament concerns a regime to process GE release applications and other matters.

Canada is the third-largest producer of GE crops after the United States and Argentina, and over 60 percent of canola, 27 percent of its corn and 17 percent of its soybeans are genetically engineered.

The Green Party repeated claims that New Zealand exporters would lose market access and their produce would command lower prices when a moratorium on commercial release of GE crops and livestock ends later this month.

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